Cold Takes

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more about it here.)

I figured I’d spend some time today on a few quick thoughts on two bigger things that happened yesterday. More writing, fewer links. Let’s see how this works…

Dying on the Vine

First, Twitter shut down Vine. This sucks, full stop. As someone who was a seed investor in the company, to say it has been a rollercoaster ride is an understatement. I recall it as one of the more fun experiences in beta testing a product pre-launch, and some folks at Twitter clearly agreed, as they ended up acquiring the company before it launched. Obviously, this is always bittersweet (see also: Periscope), but it was amazing to see Vine flourish with the power of Twitter behind it in those early years.

And then. Twitter’s management kept changing. Key people started leaving Vine. New management came in. Vine was seemingly emphasized, de-emphasized, emphasized again. At various points it was a fad, silly, a new art form, the next YouTube, the future of video. And now dead. My head is still spinning with regard to how badly Twitter fucked up this opportunity here. At the same time, I know they have more pressing concerns…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this: last night on SportsCenter — SportsCenter! — Scott Van Pelt gave what I thought was a fitting eulogy for Vine. The fact that this was front-and-center on the most prominent sports show in the world is still amazing to me. I remember version 0.1. Just a few years later, it had entered regular rotation in ESPN’s world. And then Twitter killed it. The mind boggles. Time for you to step up, Giphy.

Apple’s MacBook Event

Sadly, I was only able to watch the event yesterday while doing about a hundred other things, so I didn’t feel like I paid the full attention to the event that I usually get to. So probably nothing too insightful here. And yet, I’ll keep talking anyway.

The new Apple TV “TV” app seems nicer, but also just another step towards where this is all inevitably heading. Still so many apps to download to make this world pretty well. But not fully well. If it includes Netflix, this will be much more interesting. But it doesn’t seem like it’s going to include Netflix… So… The baby steps continue!

The new MacBook Pro looks great. It makes sense to me. How do you include a touch screen on a computer without making it a touch screen computer? Like this. And while some people wonder if this isn’t step one towards a touchscreen MacBook, I sort of wonder if it’s not step one towards a MacBook with a fully multi-touch keyboard area… Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not…

More thoughts when I have time to digest it all.

5ish Links

“A really great object doesn’t need a plaque.”

Great Spencer Bailey profile of Nike CEO Mark Parker. Of note:

Says Robert Burke, a fashion consultant in New York: “Nike has changed or penetrated the day-to-day life of the customer, and it’s not just a product anymore. The only brand that I can liken that to is Apple.”


“You know when you go into a museum and all the people are reading the plaque on the wall?” Sachs tells me. “A really great object doesn’t need a plaque. That idea is something that Mark is always bringing to the table.” Sachs goes on to reference a quote from William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” That, Sachs believes, sums up Parker’s mantra for managing Nike.

Prime example of a company accelerating under someone who is not the founder, but has kept the ideals fully intact, while at the same time adding in his own style.

About Those Las Vegas Raiders…

Joe Nocera on the possibility of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas:

The problem for cities like Las Vegas, desperate to land an N.F.L. franchise — or cities trying to hold on to a team that is demanding a new, state-of-the-art stadium — is that the billionaire owners of these franchises usually expect municipalities to pick up part of the tab for the new arena. There are few municipalities that don’t succumb (though Oakland, to its everlasting credit, is one of them, which is why Davis wants to move). To justify using tax dollars to subsidize N.F.L. owners, officials invariably point to the jobs that will be added, the infrastructure that will be improved and the economic activity that will ensue.

And in almost every case, those benefits are overstated or bogus. The academic literature on this point is nearly unanimous. Brad Humphreys, who has done a number of such studies as an economics professor at West Virginia University, told me bluntly that a new stadium brings “no economic benefit.” All it does is move spending to a football game that was otherwise being spent somewhere else.

The NFL in Vegas seems like a shitshow just waiting to happen. In other words, perfect, and of course it will happen.

Go Ahead, Make My PG-13 Movie…

The Economist:

It is a fitting scene for such an indefatigable supporter of the Second Amendment as Mr Eastwood (he has previously joked that he has “a very strict gun control policy. If there is a gun around, I want to be in control of it”). The film industry as a whole has become increasingly gun-friendly, according to the Internet Movie Firearms Database; their crowd-sourced data suggests that the median number of weapon models featured in films has increased by 11% from 1995 to 2015. Researchers also found that gun violence in PG-13 films has more than tripled since 1985; in recent years, it has even exceeded the violence of R-rated films.


(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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